Three Movies and a Weekend

When I have time to kill, I call up on Roger Ebert.

Roger Ebert runs one of the best movie reviews site, and his reviews are complex. It takes a while to understand what he is saying about a movie. That has always puzzled me. It is not like reading the movie reviews on a weekend newspaper, or taking a quick look at Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB. Here is someone who has tried hard to internalize the movie, deeply understands what the director is trying to do, analyzes the characters, derives meanings from the plot sequences, and communicates his erudite and considered views on movies to the reader.

I cannot say anything close to that view of mine about other reviewers. Surely, not of me, as I am a lightweight, irregular movie goer.

This past weekend, I was alone most of the time, and decided that instead of meaningless loitering of shopping malls, or continuous reading of news websites, it may be better to fall back on the renowned Roger Ebert for a movie selection.

Well, of course, it depends on me at the end of the day, as I have still got to choose from the hundreds of movie reviews at Roger’s site. It is not easy, as one is spoiled for choice. Further, one has got to read many reviews before something clicks in the mind. So, at the end of reviews reading, I decided I have got to stop somewhere and see some movie which is close enough to be good.

The first one was “SURVIVOR” directed by James McTeigue, with Milla Jovovich and Pierce Brosnan. I chose this (though it was not highly rated) as I wanted some action movie with lots of chases around city streets, and inconceivable terrorist threats, and the like. You got it, yes that is exactly what SURVIVOR provides – a fast action movie, though meaningless in several parts, and clueless for viewers. However, the action was there, and I liked Jovovich’s acting and Brosnan’s cool plotting. Overall, my conclusion was that this movie is not worth spending money on, but could be a decent choice if it is coming via cable (like free ?!)…….the movie is not a remote possibility as it depicts the U.S. Embassy in London to be dysfunctional, and a gang could have access to the visa decisions.

The second one was a classic movie by director Steven Soderbergh – the 1989 movie “Sex, Lies and Videotape”. Andie MacDowell and James Spader have delivered outstanding performances in this complex movie about sex in the mind. There is no sex or violence in this movie, except for some suggestive scenes, but the complexity arises because the lead actress, Ann (acted by Andie MacDowell) does a psycho analysis of herself with a psychiatric counsellor, and it is intriguing to say the least. She has an unhappy married life and is asked very intrusive questions by the counsellor. On the other hand, Graham (acted by James Spader) has a problem with sex – he can only have vicarious sex by interviewing women that he comes across who share their intimate details with him. The movie is full of dialogues, monologues, conversations of the intense variety, et al. It is a very well taken movie which explores complex issues of the mind. Conversations between two rather complex individuals drive this movie. Surely worth seeing !

The third one was “PASSION” by the famous director Brian De Palma. This was a very intriguing experience for me. I have not seen any such movie which depicts the battle for supremacy between two intelligent, creative women, who plot against each other in a corporate setting. There are twists and turns, and there is a murder, yes, I did not expect that piece. There is intense police investigation, there are arrests, there is scrutiny of all kinds, but then the movie takes an unexpected turn. This is a movie of suspense, intrigue, and unexpected plot sequences of the unusual variety. It keeps you on the edge, even after one of the women has been eliminated. There is no more race to the top, but there is a race towards determining who is the culprit. And, there is that very unusual executive assistant who brings a new dimension, though towards the end. All in all, this was the best out of the three movies that I saw during this weekend !

I have never seen three movies so packed together, but it was a good experience. I am now trying to enjoy the different genres of movie making by very talented directors. The learning from these movies is more on the creativity and innovation of the directors (both Soderbergh and De Palma), rather than the story line itself.


Vijay Srinivasan

7th June 2015


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